Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #449: Learning (Blank)

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Learning Survival

She had lost almost everything once,
and so she lived
everyday
as if there was someone
or
something
out there,
ready to take it all away.
And because she took nothing
for granted,
she never procrastinated—
always feeling that if she wasn’t ahead,
she was behind.
It was so easy to forget things,
for so much was on her menu
that was added to daily.
Yet she found that by living this way,
although
physically and mentally—
yet never spiritually—
exhausting,
made her better,
her quality of life better,
for she could eat what she wanted sometimes.
Yes, she’d rather work 60 hours a week
and lose her sanity,
but preserve her security,
however temporary.
And the time that she wasn’t working,
trying to make it all happen,
she spent enjoying that which had not yet
been
taken
away.

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Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #448: Chore

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Hymn of Motherhood

(for all the “Tullies” out there)

For Mama Mia,
motherhood was a never-ending spin cycle—
of scraping dried spaghetti off plates
or off the floor,
wiping spit-up from faces,
throw-up out of sheets,
& sometimes poop or pee,
& even poopy pee.
It was poop in the bathtub.
It was cooking hamburger casseroles for dinner
& baking cupcakes for play-dates.
It was cold cereal & spilt milk
& crying for no reason
& laughing for the same.
It was yelling for a multitude of reasons.
It was vacuuming the rugs
for the creeping crawlies in onesies
& the toddling twos in their missing left socks.
It was reading the same stories over & over—
like binge-watching Groundhog Day
limiting her own screen time to set an example,
& sharing her chocolate to show that sharing was good.
It was hiding in the bathroom to check her e-mail or
in the closet to nosh on a frozen white chocolate KitKat
& not feeling guilty for saying no when she needed a dose of
I Love Lucy to unwind.
It was letting them see her read books,
so they would know she did it for herself
& not just for them.
It was giving them what they needed,
but not always what they wanted.
It was making time to play with them
& knowing when to leave them to their own (non-electronic) devices.
It was saying thousands of “I love yous” before
getting even one back.
It was sticky hands & dirty feet & boogies God knew where.
It was one dish left of a set.
It was showing them the world
but not showing the world, them.
It was teaching them about Heaven &
the God who created it in a way
they could
understand.
It was trying to keep their memories alive
of those who’d loved them,
but they would never remember.
It was putting locks on doors, cabinets, cupboards.
It was trying to remember so much &
having to be so aware.
It was a life sentence of worry.
It was not believing in spanking,
& yet,
promising never to spank again.
It was comforting after disciplining.
It was, when Daddy pissed her the hell off,
letting her temper freeze over when it wanted to boil over.
It was forgiving Daddy for pissing her the hell off.
It was remembering the day when she used to look at harried mothers,
feeling sorry for them,
& knowing now that she had become what she had once vowed
she would never become.
It was a constant unscrambling of the brain.
when interrupted because of the need for attention.
It was a distracted drive through life &
staying up far too late to get some alone time.
It was yearning for her pre-baby body in her post-baby life,
wondering why the silhouette in the mirror disappointed her,
for she’d been running,
it seemed,
since the day they were born.
It was everything she had ever wanted &
more work than she had ever thought it would be.
It was teaching them all the things they really needed to know
before they ever got to kindergarten;
it was learning to know when to ask for help
so that she could care for herself as well
as she cared for all of them.

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Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #447: Release

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Max Hollywood

He liked his own posts—
his favorite subject being himself—
even going so far as to
put sticky notes all over his mirror,
reminding himself of how awesome he was.
But when that face in the mirror went all Dorian Gray on him—
the mirror cracking when he smiled at it—
he was rewarded with 7 years of bad luck.
Then he had to rely on a world
that became blind to his male beauty,
but not to his bullshit.
His face,
his lucky charm,
was no longer a goldmine.
The women he’d collected like dolls,
or charms for a bracelet,
were released from his magnetic charm,
for the value of his sperm bank
had depreciated,
& so, like an aging movie star,
there were no new releases,
save the ones that he did himself.

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The Foxy Newshound

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Alethea Porter had APA style,
seeing everything from every angle
& always keeping herself above the fold.
A columnist who kept her books in neat rows,
she fought astroturfing,
fake news,
& yellow journalism.
She lived in an inverted pyramid
with a snazzy layout wallpapered in newsprint
in the Fixer-Upper Northwest Side of Chicago.
One headline,
one deadline,
& sometimes,
one punchline at a time,
she climbed the ladder of the urban jungle gym,
respecting those well-seasoned story scoopers on the back bench
& mentoring the eager cubs who followed her lede.
She didn’t do puff pieces or hit pieces,
but covered first-day hard news & seventh-day soft news;
she was an informant of the best kind.
Whether in Athens, Georgia,
Paris, Texas,
or Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,
she was a not-so-private investigative reporter,
her nondescript cover a trench coat & hat,
a la Carmen Sandiego.
She broke with the breaking news,
sometimes breaking down,
never forgetting that her subjects were real people
whose unfortunate series of life events provided the material
she mined to make her career—
that they weren’t just characters in a story,
but they were the story.

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #446: Cooking

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The Baker’s Manifesto

Betty Botter was a lousy cook,
but a swell baker,
for working with butter, sugar, flour, & eggs
was easy as pie,
a piece of cake,
a ginger snap even.
Throw chocolate chips into the mix,
& she was unstoppable.

The feel of raw meat made her sick,
& whoever referred to their kiddo
as Bacon or Hamburger?
It was always Cupcake or Sweetie Pie,
just as wretched men were pigs,
women, cows,
& dumbasses of both sexes were sheep—
mooing, oinking, bleating meat.

What’s more,
the smart cookies knew when
to shut their pieholes & cakeholes,
& stick a baguette in them,
for it was better to eat carbs
than to part your lips
& say something stupid.

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Something for Everyone: Resecting at the Sunday Breakfast Table

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Something for Everyone: Resecting at the Sunday Breakfast Table

Resection (noun): Surgery. The excision of all or part of an organ or tissue.

For the Swen family,
The Deseret Daily Dispatch was like a game of “Operation.”
There was the crossword for cross-eyed Aunt Luz,
who tended to scrabble when it came to Sudoku,
for her numbers were often puzzling.
Grandma Posy read the obituaries,
always saying she was going to be next.
Joey Bischoff, aged 12,
whose E.I. was higher than his I.Q.,
ate the Sports section & Wheaties for breakfast;
his Irish twin, Jackie Oh,
would read her horoscope with horror & fascination.
Janey Rebel, at 6,
much to her daddy’s chagrin,
liked making paper dolls out of the society pages,
or drawing moustaches on the women
& dresses on the men in the funnies.
Perusing the personals was Mrs. White, the maid,
who played matchmaker on herself.
Mr. Swen, the brooder of the brood—
the rooster of the roost—
treated the op-eds as an appetizer to the business section.
With a sniff,
he’d claim that all the opinions smelled
like the late Mrs. Swen’s cooking,
which she had let burn while she read Dear Libby
or Helen’s Household Hints—
advice she never took & hints she never got,
for her tombstone read:

Here lies Anna Fox Swen,
beloved mom & Mrs.,
who just wouldn’t listen.

 

Writer’s Digest Wednesday Poetry Prompt #444: Four

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The Foursquare Gospel

Jesus Christ the Savior–
not the ghost of a mortal or a legend of The Fall,
but the earthly flesh and heavenly spirit
of an extraterrestrial,
who came to us a form we could
understand,
with words only some of us ever would–
words powerful enough to compel some to love their enemies
and others to hate their families.
This was true omniscience.

The Baptizer–
for asking others to do
what even He had to.
No ventriloquist, was He,
for the voice from Heaven
was as much His as the voice
from the clump of cells
that made up His body,
for if He was truly everywhere,
then in our cells,
He is also.
This was true omnipresence.

The Healer–
for hands that crafted cradles and
the crosses that would become
His temporary open coffin;
for garments, water, and clay
He turned healing and holy,
and blood that transmitted without needles,
with which He could save the worst of humankind.
This was true omnipotence.

The Coming King–
whose crown was as luminous as
the sun’s corona,
illuminating this Being who had
the mane of a lion and
the roar of a lamb and
a passion unmatched between any two lovers
at their heights.
Though even He knows not when to return
to this rocky world He lay his life down for.

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